Is the Yamaha YAS-209 Soundbar a Good Choice for You?

As you shop for a soundbar to boost your TV‘s audio, Yamaha‘s YAS-209 likely popped up in your search. Released in 2019, this 32-inch soundbar and wireless subwoofer combo promises to upgrade your home theater‘s sonics for just $350. 💰

But labels like "clear voice mode" or "DTS Virtual:X surround" probably don‘t mean much if you‘re not an A/V geek. You just want to know:

Will this soundbar provide noticeable improvements for TV shows, movies, and music?

How hard will it be to set up and use?

Does it support latest technologies like voice assistants, streaming, or Dolby Atmos?

Let‘s explore the Yamaha YAS-209‘s real-world performance to find out…

Yamaha‘s Audio Legacy

First, who is Yamaha? Why should you trust them for your soundbar purchase?

Founded in 1887 (yes really!), Yamaha has a long legacy crafting fine acoustic pianos and instruments. They leveraged this expertise when entering the home audio market in the late 1960s.

From premium hi-fi components to feasible A/V receivers, the Japanese company earned respect for balancing quality with affordability. Tech innovations also played a key role – Yamaha integrated early surround sound, digital amplification, and wireless streaming over decades.

Cut to today where Yamaha remains a soundbar staple. With keen attention to sonic subtleties like clear midrange and broader stereo imaging, even entry-level models bear an engaging musicality.

While falling short of premium brands like Bang & Olufsen for design flair or Bowers & Wilkins for materials lavishness, Yamahas counterpunch with a sweet spot matching price to performance.

Evolving the Entry-Level Soundbar Formula

The $350 YAS-209 replaced Yamaha‘s own YAS-207 in 2019, building upon a successful formula for an easy yet effective audio makeover solution.

Upgrades centered on deeper bass impact thanks to a larger wireless subwoofer, supporting latest surround formats via DTS Virtual:X, and adopting the Alexa smart assistant:

yas209-table

Comparing Yamaha‘s entry-level soundbar models

Notice no cutting edge codecs like Dolby Atmos made the features list.
And physical design remains similar too – you‘re still dealing with a wide-ish soundbar without separate surround speakers or a booming hide-away subwoofer.

But remember most consumers prioritize 1) better audio than crappy TV speakers and 2) approachable pricing. So how well does the YAS-209 deliver that baseline experience?

Unboxing & Setup Impressions

Let‘s quickly unbox the YAS-209 to inspect build quality before assessing ease of setup:

A YouTube fan unboxes the YAS-209 soundbar and subwoofer

Opening the package reveals:

  • A sleek-ish 35” soundbar with matte finish
  • Large rear subwoofer with side-firing driver
  • Compact remote control
  • Various input cables like HDMI and optical audio
  • AC and wired power cords

You‘ll immediately notice a premium heft when lifting each component – nothing screams cheap plastic. Buttons feel tactile, cables connect securely. The basics check out.

Now for setup, Yamaha makes it blessedly simple by supporting both wired and wireless connections:

Option 1) Plug an HDMI cable from your TV‘s ARC port into the soundbar. This carries both audio signals AND remote control commands. Then connect the wireless subwoofer to power and let the soundbar auto-pair.

Option 2) If your older TV lacks HDMI ARC, use the included optical audio cable instead. This carries sound but may limit volume/power control unless you still have line-of-sight between TV remote and soundbar IR sensor.

I suggest the HDMI route for best integration. The free Yamaha Sound Bar Remote app guides you through any WiFi or music streaming service linkage. Expect 10-15 minutes before enjoying tunes and videos.

If needing to reset the soundbar later, a tip: Connect it via ethernet cable temporarily to enable WiFi when struggling with finicky routers or hidden SSIDs networks.

Performance First Impressions

Engineers designed the YAS-209 to project audio evenly whether you mount below a wall-hung TV or place on a media console.

The angled soundbar disperses midrange and treble frequencies widely into the room. Audyssey room correction further optimizes response for your unique environment.

Bass frequencies come solely from the subwoofer – its larger size and rear-port produce earth-shaking depth.

But enough talk! Listen for yourself:

A YouTube reviewer demos the YAS-209‘s sound profile

Crisp highs, engaging midrange, thicker lows – dynamic range impresses for the price! Dialog seems clear for dramas or news while effects retain detail across action flicks or songs.

Now let‘s explore key features that determine whether the YAS-209 fits your lifestyle…

Key Feature #1: DTS Virtual:X Surround

Soundbars face physics limitations for engulfing surround effects with just front-facing drivers. Like its rivals, the YAS-209 cheats by using psychoacoustic tricks to widen the stereo image.

Yamaha leverages DTS Virtual:X processing, which clarifies dialog while creating a more immersive bubble of ambient audio. It can‘t fully replace rear satellite speakers yet maintains the illusion sound comes from outside the bar itself.

You engage DTS Virtual:X or toggle between various presets (movie, music, game, TV) via the remote control or Yamaha smartphone app. Notice how vocals “pop” more clearly and spatial cues like echoes or footsteps seemingly travel around your room.

While falling short of convincing “3D” effects from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X tracks, DTS:X Virtual sufficiently widens the soundstage. You’ll absolutely notice the difference from standard stereo playback through the bar.

Key Feature #2: Alexa Voice Assistant

Like incorporating touchscreens years back, soundbars now integrate voice control into their bag of tricks. With on-board mics and Alexa integration, the YAS-209 accepts a variety of commands:

  • “Alexa, turn up the volume”
  • “Alexa, next track”
  • “Alexa, switch to HDMI input”
  • “Alexa what‘s the weather forecast?”

Think of Alexa as a virtual assistant ready to change settings, cue playlists, or pipe in smart home notifications hands-free. She works even when the soundbar sits in standby mode.

One odd caveat: Alexa won‘t OFFICIALLY power on the soundbar if fully powered down. I discovered a sneaky workaround using Alexa Routines and Harmony Hub to enable true hands-free operation from cold boot state.

While not yet perfect, Alexa makes mundane tasks like input switching or volume changes feel slick. And she provides entertainment answers without reaching for your phone.

Key Feature #3: Music Streaming & Multi-Room Audio

In our streaming-obsessed era, soundbars must integrate services like Spotify, Pandora and SiriusXM for quick music background. The free Yamaha Sound Bar Remote app brings them all under one roof.

Sync via WiFi and simply link your existing accounts to enable playback. Queue playlists, discover new artists or podcasts, and control it all from your phone.

The YAS-209 misses latest multi-room audio features allowing sync‘d playback across Yamaha speakers ala Sonos or Heos. But attaching a Bluetooth transmitter lets you transmit to wireless headphones or outdoor speakers for DIY whole-home audio.

Limitations to Consider

Now let‘s balance the praise by listing key limitations that may sway your buying decision:

Bulkier subwoofer – That huge wireless subwoofer can prove tricky to hide compared to slimmer models from Bose, Polk or JBL. Plan for an awkward 16” x 16” footprint. Wall mounting helps aim vibrations away from rumbly floor transfer.

Messy cabling – With some connections only accepting wired hookup, cable management gets messier compared to bars with ALL wireless sub and surround speaker integration. Too short? Reach for an HDMI extension.

No Dolby Atmos – The YAS-209 decodes leading surround formats like Dolby Digital and DTS. But it lacks more advanced 3D height-channel processing for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio tracks. Those require extra speaker drivers fitted into soundbars like the Sonos Arc.

No surround add-ons – While some soundbars let you beef up audio over time by adding wireless surround speakers or beefier components, the YAS-209 is a sealed system. You must upgrade fully.

The Verdict?

The Yamaha YAS-209 nails fundamentals like clear voice reproduction, musical bass, and functional features at a palatable $350 price. It brings audible improvements whether you mainly watch news commentary, binge Netflix dramas, or chill to Spotify playlists.

If desiring more cinematic, 3D effects from Dolby Atmos movie mixes or a wider multi-room ecosystem, I suggest stepping up to alternatives like:

  • Sonos Beam 2
  • Bose Smart Soundbar 900
  • Samsung HW-Q950A

But remember those options demand $500+ investments once adding true wireless rears. The YAS-209 satisfies for under $300 bucks while dropping premium perks that may go unused.

So if seeking an easy yet effective audio lift over awful thin TV sound, I certainly recommend test driving the lively, engaging Yamaha YAS-209. Let me know if any other questions pop up!

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